Beautiful Personalized Gifts for Christmas with Giveaway!


***I was not paid to write this review. All opinions are my own.***


Living  in the South has ignited a passion in me for all things monogrammed, engraved, and personalized, so when I came across this locket that you can personalize online in 5 minutes with words AND photos, and order it right to your doorstep, I HAD to try it. Thankfully, I was able to get my hands on a free blogger sample. (Thank you!)

Making the Locket on

I was a little nervous about making it. Usually places like this want an exact size of photo, or I goof up and order 3 instead of 1… I did with those Third Love bras…but that’s another story…

Y’all! It was SO EASY, and there were OPTIONS– like Subway!! Silver or gold? What should be on the front? Which font? Choose your left inside. Words or photo? Choose the right inside. Choose what’s on the back. How long of a chain? Which type of shipping?

Want to see what I picked?

» Read more

2016 Christmas Gift Guide for Tween Boys, Ages 8-12


Top Pre-Teen Boy Picks: Ages ~8-12


#1. Popular Video Games this Christmas:

Our sons don’t have any of these yet, and all three are on my oldest’s list. His nonna has already claimed the basketball one, and I took care of the Skylanders, thanks to this incredible deal that Amazon is running right now on it. (That’s a link that’ll take you to it. So yes, this whole page is chock full of affiliate links.)






#2. Cards, cards, and more cards!!!



Both of my oldest two boys (ages 9 and 11) are crazy about these. Here’s a link to some card holders too because their collections get massive quickly.


#3. Books my boys have asked for:

The latest Wimpy Kid book is HALF OFF on Amazon this week! I’m sure we’ll be completing our collection…

Epic Big Nate: This one is NOT on sale, and it’s $32. Youch. It’s an overview of Peirce’s career progression with Big Nate. I’m not sure that it has any cartoons in it that haven’t already been read, so we will be holding out on this one, but if you have a die-hard fan, like our son Joshua, it would still be a hit.

The Big Book of Who is $12.50, and has enough pictures to be a major hit for kids who love basketball and love memorizing sports stats.

This one is only $9, and it’s an excellent story of a boy overcoming adversity through hard work to become an NBA star. 

#4. Sports Team Apparel

This is the first year that sports team apparel has made both Joshua and Caleb’s lists. Clothes! They actually want clothes! Joshua wants (yet another) ball cap, and Caleb wants a Bryce Harper jersey. And our sports teams are all over the place because we move so much, but that’s okay. Here are the ones my boys want. Of course, the Braves and Georgia Bulldogs are more popular where I live. What team do your neighborhood kids root for?


#5. Well, actually, who DOESN’T want a drone this year???

This one is the Star Wars remote control Tie Fighter Drone, per Caleb’s specifications!

#6. A New Bat (or sports equipment in general)



#7. Lego

Lego sets are still a safe bet for some boys, but not others. Caleb still loves them. They weren’t at the top of the list this year. However, they do get excited about the Legos that you can do robotics with, the kind that have moving parts.

The very affordable Star Wars build able figures are still a hit.

And then there’s these, for the mechanically inclined:

Buyer beware: It’s $200. This is just a pipe dream for most of our kids. Ha!

But they do make these:  lego

These are only $30, and you can add these motors to Lego creations that they already have or make to go with it. 

#8. A Mega Nerf Gun

We refuse to buy any more of them because our boys have way too many, and yet it still turned up on Caleb’s Christmas list, yet again. Caleb has this one, and it is pretty amazing:


Toys we’ve graduated from:

–Hotwheels (sad, I know)

–Super Hero Toys


This age group is mostly past the above toys. My younger boys love them, though!

I hope at least one of these ideas will be helpful for you. Please always feel free to share with me what types of articles you’d like to see on the blog or the newsletter.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Don’t forget to sign up for my new newsletter! This post was supposed to be the first official newsletter, but since I only have 4 subscribers (Thanks, Mom!!!), I decided to go ahead and share it on my blog too. (Hahaha! So sad, I know, but after all, I did just start it a couple of days ago!) Once we get to 10 subscriptions I’ll send out a real newsletter that does not also appear on the website!!

Subscribe to our new and exciting newsletter! (Even if you are already getting the blog posts; the newsletter will be different.)

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What makes you thrive? What is in your wheelhouse?

I recently read a post by Tamara over at, titled “In My Wheelhouse.”

Tamara Like Camera. Check out her blog!

She talks about her realm of expertise, the things that she can do, and do well.

She inspired me. What is in MY wheelhouse?

Tamara is really into the photography AND writing aspect of blogging. Actually, she’s also a genius at the social networking part of it too.

I enjoy the writing, and you know I love me some pictures. But photography? Taking wedding photos for other people? Let me go run and hide now because that is so NOT in my wheelhouse.

I get nervous when tourists hand me their cameras. What if I just ruin it?? One time Alan’s Aunt Ellen let me take a video of her family at Christmas, and while I did not provide a quality video, I DID provide side-splitting laughter for anyone who watched that film. There’s something hilarious about watching someone film people’s FEET while saying, “Oh, yeah, I got you in here. Looks good!”

I can’t believe I haven’t had anymore video or photography offers…

Today I dropped a couple of balls and goofed on a project I was working on, and I was asking myself, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I get anything right? No one is going to trust me with anything.”

I’ve gotta cut out that sort of thinking.

Let’s all STOP for a second.

Tune out the voices of negativity and destructive self-talk, and ASK yourself:

What is in your wheelhouse?

What are you GOOD at? What do you enjoy? Then focus on that activity for as long as you can. Find a way to devote time to THAT, even if it means finding child care for a little while.

I love this verse:

6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.    Romans 12:6-8

I’m taking a few minutes to think about what IS in my wheelhouse. What DO I enjoy doing? What am I good at? What do I do that helps others?

Well, of course, I made a list. It feels like bragging, but I promise it’s not. It’s turning negative thoughts into positive ones.

What's in your wheelhouse?

deep in thought

-I write. I write with honesty and humility. I’m not into fiction. It’s fun to read, but I’m more into writing about humor, spirituality, and ideas.

What's in your wheelhouse?

My yummy not-so-buttermilk biscuits

-I cook, and I LOVE it. I can make chicken and dumplins that’ll make you want to slap yo Mama.(No, autocorrect. It is DUMPLINS.)

My husband actually has to ask me to please not cook so much because the refrigerator is so full. That’s why I had time to blog today. Leftovers have been requested!! I know. I have the best husband ever.

What's in your wheelhouse?

-I’m funny.

I used to hate being called funny, way back when I was in high school. Boys were always teasing me and telling me how funny I was, and I was 16, so I really just wanted to be PRETTY! But I’m older and wiser now. Beauty is fleeting, so I’m good with funny. I’m also so thankful to be out of high school.

What's in your wheelhouse?

Art is in Joshua’s wheelhouse. (not so much mine!)

-I do like teaching. I’m stressed all the time because I’m a poor time manager who doesn’t plan or delegate well, but I truly enjoy reading to the boys, teaching them about cells, and planning little activities for them. I can’t tell you how happy I felt today, writing out the 6 times table, for the boys to cut up and practice with.

7-3-15 185


-Babies. Babies are now in my wheelhouse. Before I had Joshua, I knew NOTHING about babies. Now I adore them. Babies mellow a person.

-Oh, according to KLOUT, this thing you will never have to worry about if you are not a blogger, I am an “expert at being a mom.”

I laughed so hard at that. Please note: Not. true.

-Bible study. I have this book. It’s my verse book. I have it sub-divided into subject categories. When I come across a verse that’s relevant to a topic that I think may come in handy, I file it into my book.

What's in your wheelhouse?

This shows a few of my tabs.

What's in your wheelhouse?

My Homemade Big Book of Verses: Those post-it notes on the cover are the verses I’m loving right now. Ephesians is so wonderful. I’ve spent weeks on it.

I have no formal Bible training, other than going to church and listening to sermons multiple times/week for the past 30 years. I’ve never attended any Christian schools. However, I have read it on my own since I was 11, and I read Bible study guides. I’ve read the Bible through several times, but I still have so much to learn.

The Bible has to be taken as a whole. You can’t take one verse from the Bible and build your theology on that. Believe it or not, everything is NOT black and white. It’s not about a list of rules. God is so much greater than that.

Jesus told the Pharisees:

…2But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.” 3But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, 4how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone?…  Matthew 12:2-4

The Bible says to not work on the Sabbath, but Jesus healed people on the Sabbath.

God wants us to combine our knowledge of good and evil with common sense, mercy, and decency.

I wish the world could grasp the way that Jesus changed the story.

One day, I’d really love to spend WAY more time writing about Biblical things. It’s an intimidating thing to do, though, because I know what a crummy sinner I am. If I write about Jesus all the time, the whole world will hold me accountable to back that up with the way I live. Scary, isn’t it?

I’ll do my best. It’s in my wheelhouse to write about the things of God. I hope that you will all give me grace as I grow, but please know that I will never be perfect. People just aren’t.

But God gives more grace.

I’m thankful that grace is in God’s wheelhouse.

What is in yours?





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